Thursday, January 31, 2008

Stoves and Spines

Where to start?! The ETHOS meeting was just fantastic. Our talk went well; Sleeve and I did it together and went through our slides, added important points, received helpful comments and questions, and all in our allowed half hour! We met Larry Winiarski, the man credited with the invention of the rocket stove. He came up to us and told us he was "just so proud" of us for doing what we did. I told him the next day I only wish I knew what I didn't know until this weekend because we could've taken into account all so much more! We went to different sessions. And everything I went to left me incredibly inspired. The first one was in regards to Health Effects Monitoring re: data acquired in a stove project done in northern Peru. What I got out of this was upper respiratory infections are a result of larger inhaled particles while COPD's ( ie., chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) are a result of inhaling smaller particles. Apparently they didn't use data from the nearest Centro de Salud, which I thought surprising, and because of studying only 40 families and having pulmonary testing not being reliable, not much data was acquired that could be interpreted one way or the other. In regards to our project, Dr Jay Smith, the presenter is interested in our findings because of the numbers of people we tested. But of note and on more thought, we may have similar difficulties as we used a "pocket peak" (end expiratory volumes obtained with a handheld doohickey and then comparing our findings to a table included that took into account height and age), nothing was computerized and we too could have faulty results because of the testing. (ie., many were embarrassed on blowing on this thing, and even with 3 tests and then us taking the highest volume we may not have very exact results either.) Another thought I had was the fact that men, young and middle aged could ride like the wind at 13,000-14,000 feet in spite of indoor air pollution, low expiratory volumes, and not the best diet. However women never ride bikes but still walk incredible distances as do children, and whether the most significant data point might just be perceived health benefits.

My second session was in regards to The Finned Pot, by Dale Andreatta. The assumption here is that it's easier and cheaper to work with a pot rather the stove. The 'finned pot' he found in a camping catalog increased the heat transfer by 100%! What he did was create a variety of types of finning (ie., aluminum tape fanned and attached to the bottom, slit finning clamped on to the bottom, ring of perforated metal attached to the base, and then rectangular metal tubing around the side); and then measured the percentage of heat transfer. Depending on the type of finning transfer was increased up to 40-50%, with costs of approximately $5.

I then went to a talk about Efficiency Testing, by Crispin Pemberton-Pigott. This was a bit over my head. I had thought it would be about the types of tests. Nonetheless the factors he takes into account not only demonstrate one stoves' efficiency against another but also points in regards to global warming potentials.

My next session was Rethinking Stove Design: Innovation for Sustained Social Benefit in a Culturally Diverse World, by Nathan Johnson and Mark Bryden. This was interesting as well, although I have no notes on it. What I walked out of there with was the importance of knowing your culture before you go in and decide what changes will be beneficial. To eat with them, be in their homes and see what their day to day life entails. I guess you could say it's about respect and gaining trust, not to mention coming up with something that will be actually useful to them.

The next for me was in regards to Emissions Testing, by Jim Jetter. This gentleman evaluated a few existing stove models for their degree of emissions. And also, comparisons in the water boil test, fuel consumption, and thermal efficiency in a cold start vs hot start, and doug fir vs oak fuel. The "Phillips" stove had the best overall performance. (I did see this stove in action on Sunday and it is quite amazing! It has a sleek stainless steel design. In fact, I wouldn't mind having one myself!) The rocket was low in emissions, low cost (as opposed to the Phillips) but had a short lifetime. The 6-Brick didn't perform as well as expected and the stoves with griddles were great for tortillas but not for the water boil test.

I then took in Larry Winiarski's talk about Rocketstove Refinements. More basic and therefore good for me to hear about what the man who invented the rocket stove has to say about basic points in combustion and why the rocketstove is built like it is and what additions are helpful, like potskirts. He added that years ago, when he had just gotten involved in this, his wife sadly passed away. He had young sons to raise. He made a deal with God right then and there promising to help the undeveloped world if God helped him raise his family. And there is a Larry Winiarski, Jr involved in this work now!

My final session for Saturday was Materials Selection, Life Prediction, and Failure Analysis of Candidate Materials for Combustion Chambers for Wood Cookstoves, by Eliza Guzman. The goal is to have an energy efficient, durable, easy to make cookstove with low emssions. Our available materials are fired clay or refractory brick, cast iron, carbon steel, stainless steel, and expensive coated steel. The study looked at the challenges of high temperatures, thermal mechanical cycling, dirty fuels, and moisture. They used incredibly powerful microscopes to examine the damage by these factors on the materials we have to make combustion chambers with. What was recommended are alloys with natural self healing oxide coating, ie., chromum aluminum. (I wonder if that was what the Phillips stove was made of? If I remember right, those had a predicted lifetime of 2000 hours? I think so.)

The evening began with a talk about Poverty by Don O'Neil of HELPS INTL . An impressive talk about what we already know in regards to the role of poverty in the third world and we all need reminders of. There are many facets that exist in providing aid in regards to malnutrition, medical care, education and the like. And missing a piece can mean improvements made won't help.

Saturday evening after our session, we saw presentations on Work Being Done in Guatemala and El Salvador with Stoveteam International, a Rotary funded Project. This is a Eugene based project! The networking we were able to do was fantastic, not only with the Stoveteam, but also with the huge number of NGO's, PCIA (Partnership for Clean Indoor Air), inventors and students. The last session for Saturday was a slideshow on work in Honduras, Micro-Enterprise Justa Stove Project. The speaker was Honduran and just 2 years prior had been to ETHOS for the first time and was just so proud to return reporting on his incredible project in his homeland. One part sticks out in my mind in regards to drying cacao beans with an efficient wood fired dryer. Apparently being in the jungle, they could not always count on the sun to dry the beans. I wish I could remember how many thousands of Justa Stoves have been put into peoples homes. It was an incredible amount. I believe 75% of the cost was absorbed by grants and the rest paid by the family. The stoves are metal, very beautiful and expensive. But with the help of grants better stoves were going in in great numbers.

The next day, Sunday began with general sessions compiling results from earlier meetings of various people influential in the stove building community and ETHOS. Dean Still spoke about How to Sell One Billion Stoves. He compared costs to making improved stoves in huge amounts in China (for an example) vs a local project. Basically as he broke it down, the costs are for the most part about $20 each. Of course the preference is to do it locally but to make the most (numerical) difference, mass production seems to be where its at. We wondered if mass production in China or India (presumably minus the regulations present say in our country) contributes to climate change and global warming, and if one defeats their purpose, if our interest is also in reducing carbon emissions world wide? Not to mention the numerous benefits in producing locally, injecting something into a local economy. (I have recently read about preparation in China for the Olympics in regards to the degree of pollution. Mention was made of imagining atheletes having to wear masks.) Applicable to this, Sleeve saw a session in regards to carbon credits. This is very interesting in that a country such as China can pay a third world subsistence farmer, for example in terms of his reduced carbon credits, with his improved stove, so that Chinese manufacturers can continue to produce in their usual manner. I may not have this exactly right, but this was mentioned many times as a plus for poor third world populations reducing their own carbon footprint.

Another talk discussed results of a meeting re: Stove Testing. There is agreement in regards to the importance and necessity of testing but it seems agreement does not exist entirely on how to go about this. Tami Bond was a formidable speaker and based on her slides she is calling for results and something tangible for stove inventors to work with. (And, I did find a nice document on the PCIA webpage in regards to something that might be appropriate for us, on our scale, called Design and Performance Guidance for Improved Cooking Technology.)

Sunday short sessions were great as well. I saw two on Integrated Cooking. One from David Whitfield of CEDESOL of Cochabamba, Bolivia and one from Louise Meyer of Solar Household Energy, INC., a small nonprofit based in Washington, DC, distributing solar cooking systems. David's operation with his wife was simply outstanding. A model of what Pavela and I have discussed!. They build solar cookers, retained heat cookers and improved cookstoves. Both David and Louise stress integrated cooking. When it's sunny, use your solar cooker. (In David's case this is a box set on a table with a glass front which opens up to a reflective interior that one uses black painted pots in. He demonstrated in his filmed workshops cooking meat in one of these!) Retained heat cookers are fantastic and employ a hot pot (for instance rice or beans, first boiled via either your solar cooker or improved cookstove, then placing your hot pot in a basket or insulated box, wrapped in plastic bags and blankets and then after 2-3 hours, maintaining this heat, the rice or beans are completely cooked! And done while women are working or doing other things! He brought an enormous amount of materials he distributes to the communities. David's energy was inspiring! His presentation showed many workshop approaches to spreading these methods of cooking, as well constructing one's own solar cooker. We have a standing invitation to Bolivia to visit he and his wife's operation and to learn more about his solar cookers and retained heat cookers and how they make them! Louise has a more fancy approach. Her solar cooker is a foldable cardboard like material lined with relective material at certain angles to catch the sun. Included is a pyrex type bowl that sits in a black container so to absorb the heat. Together with the support of grants, one by PCIA, there is assistance in covering the cost of the system and providing workshops in their use.

Finally we saw a general session on PCIA. Partners in Clean Indoor Air. What's possibly very exciting for us is that once we are umbrelled under Ken Goyer's NGO, we can apply for grants from this branch of the EPA. They work with groups workldwide to deliver methods in cleaning up the air. Again incredibly inspiring to see what they have accomplished in a relatively short period of time across the planet.

So i just finished a long letter to Pavela in Peru. I am thinking the excitement i feel is probably quite similar to what she felt following the meeting she went to almost a year ago in Lima. It's time to start planning for our project in November 08. Exciting to know our friends are still on-board to accompnay us. We'll need help! We have plans to complete interviews and exams in Sipascancha and Soncco, get the remainder of folks in C'orao, an improved stove and to begin a project in Usi. I hope to introduce to each village more on integrated cooking. It seems like a no-brainer to us! We need to locate refractory bricks and have a few ideas on that as a result of ETHOS and conversations we've had. I can't thank everyone enough who spoke to us and allowed us the opportunity to pick their brains.

Oh, and Spines! I am still recovering. (I have a history of impatience as far as recovery goes....)The surgeon gave me permission to return to work but with numerous restrictions. I was surprised that I still cannot lift more than 10 pounds! As I said to a friend recently I have always thought of myself as strong, at least in the last 15 years where I have made an effort ot be fit and watch my weight. And in truth my employer can't insure guarantee my safety (which I appreciate.) in my usual position. And unfortunately there isn't a temporary position available that observes my restrictions so I could get back to work. It was my suggestion, but it just isn't available. Well, I tried. So its exercises 2-3 times daily and a 3 mile walk at least once a day. And moving around alot so not to increase pressure on my lower spine. We are now working on getting me ready for work. Alot of it seems to be spine stabilization. Things are waking up and my therapists are quite encouraging. I'm thankful for them and their acknowledgement of my progress. I am quite motivated for what is a number of reasons and also grateful for that.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

En estos nuevos dias, que viene con nuevos aires, lleguen y toquen tu ventana y traigan para ti mas energia, mas suen~as, mas alegria, mas amigos, mas emociones y mas vida en tu vida.

En estos nuevos dias angeles lo ayudan a conseguir todo lo que deseas y todo eso le hara' muy feliz.

En estos nuevos dias, que tu cuerpo se ponga mas fuerte y tu mente olvide los malos momentos.

let me translate and send these wishes your way. :>)

In these new days, coming with the new air will be a knock on your window bringing to you more energy, more dreams, more happiness, more friends, more in emotions, and more life to your life.

In these new days the angels will help you to achieve all that you wish for and this will bring you much happiness.

In these new days, your body will grow stronger, and your mind will forget all the bad moments.

sweet, huh? well, my friend carlos is simply amazing and need i say it is a blessing to know him. thank you, carlos.
it's a challenge to fill up my day. i'm not supposed to sit, stand, walk, rest, or lift too much! (which means i can't even write this entry in one sitting!) geez, it's true i really don't know what to do with myself! i am bouncing off the walls of this little house. company helps, but here i am over in springfield. i'm told by the physical therapists too much sitting is hard on the disk because of the compression. walking or standing feels better but if i walk too far, it's been making my hips hurt. waaah--not to be whining or anything--i will just say once---this sucks. and yesterday after reporting as objectively as possible every little difficulty i was having to one of my wonderful therapists, including my problem in finding this elusive "neutral" spine position they all say is so important, especially when it gets sooo tight in there and tipping it either way just doesn't feel right. well, she suggested i try to find my neutral spine position by imagining my hip bones and pubic bone to be on a single plane...hmm, let me tell you, its no small feat to change ones posture habits! so, if i my position looks on the odd side, please know that's what i'm trying to do!!

i really don't mean to complain and i really try to keep it at a minimum. i don't have to remind myself how truly fortunate i am to have the people i have in my life, the medical care, the financial compensation, i mean really, so many people would have had to just struggle with this without any hope of treating it in any way. and not just in peru but right here in the good ol' USA.

so on that note i will report on some peru updates. i got a letter not too long ago from someone affiliated with colorado state university about a program funded by additional sources (Shell, and a company called Envirofit). apparently they are looking for a "market" for improved cookstoves and solar lighting. i had to ask him to clarify what he meant by "market" as it's not like the people i work with and know of could go afford to buy a cookstove or solar lighting fixture. and if i understand at least some of the program, the goal would be to manufacture these also and that microfinancing would be available. they are investigating annual wood consumption and whether electricity is dependable in general in each country they are visiting to help determine just where they will work. well, as i told them, i can't speak for the entire country of peru but i could certainly hook him up with folks in the cusco area who can knowledgeably report on the communities in their areas. i called pavela and she was happy to have the opportunity to speak to them and just last night heard back from carlos, who also would be willing. i was reminded by both of them that yes, there is no electricity in many of these villages; yes, they cook over a fire in an enclosed space without ventilation; but that no one could afford to buy these things...nonetheless i encouraged them to see what was up with this and to give their opinions as they are valuable. still to hear from is padre rene, in another area, and i am equally sure he would love to speak to them.

ironically, nearly the same day, i was contacted by a doctor now volunteering in peru (i think she is sponsored by the catholic medical mission board, as we were). and happily both carlos and pavela have ideas on how she may help the communities with sorely needed medical care! so, now i am just waiting on a couple phone numbers to pass on to everyone!

finally, steve and i are attending a conference in late january called ETHOS (engineers in technical and humanitarian opportunities of service) in the seattle area. this is quite exciting. i admit to much in the way of self induced anxiety and intimidation, as these are the people who invent the stoves! they speak a language i don't understand! and while we all know the health of people in the third world is important, they are interested in curbing deforestation, climate change and global warming as well, and work with big non-profits in installing stoves in vast numbers. we'll be reporting on our itsy bitsy stove project. (steve reminds me 100 stoves is nothing to scoff at, nor our happiness at minimally knowing the chimneys of our stoves ensure less indoor air pollution for all these women and children, even if they may not turn out to be the most efficient.) so, yes it will be exciting. i'm anxious to learn and understand more about their end of it, to share our experience, not to make the most of the networking possibilities.

last night i went to my friend connie's for a womens' group meeting for the new moon. i am not that experienced in astrological phenomenon, but apparently this new moon is in capricorn which means its time for setting a foundation and initiating a slow and patient movement forward of projects and plans. (forgive me connie, if i did not state this exactly the way you did!!) it was funny, as i drove over there in the dark with the rain pouring, i thought how silly of me to even go out on such a night. yet when i arrived to be smudged, to be in the company of such fine women and then to hear connie's report of the new moon, i thought, "there is no finer place to be than here!" so i got to toss aside my fears and loneliness and instead allow some of this capricorn energy in that will lay some important foundations for my life this year in areas of my health, work and relationships.

so, with that, it's time for a walk. today will be the dorris ranch, amidst all the hazelnut trees; acres or so it seems of moss covered trees, all in a bed of brown, wet and fresh earthy smelling leaves.

Friday, January 04, 2008

just back from a wonderful walk in the rain at the springfield end of alton baker park alongside the millrace there. it didn't rain too hard and the air was clean smelling and the ground squishy. perfect.

what with not working and now 4 weeks out of surgery, i am seeing a routine finally emerge. i wake up early and have my coffee and breakfast and listen to or read the news. then its time for my exercises from physical therapy. after this its usually time for a walk either by myself or with leslie and lilac. i am supposed to walk twice a day for a mile but sometimes go a bit longer just because i enjoy it so. many weekends leslie and scott are skiing and then i have the special treat if going to her place to soak in the wonderful hot tub in just about the sweetest back yard i have ever seen. then its home and time for ice and reading. i then fall asleep and wake up for lunch. and then i do it sort all over again, with a slightly shorter walk and minus the tub. and sometimes then i go to steves, all my stuff in tow. it seem so silly carrying my pilates ball, body pillow, cylinder, stick, and ice pack!

so, i suppose thats not bad. and somedays thankfully do not really have a routine but i still do the exercises and walk. today for example i got to talk for quite a while to pave in peru!!! (that really made my day!) i passed on some messages and news about a group perhaps interested in working in peru on a stove and solar lighting project. of course she was excited on hearing this! and then also CMMB let me know of a doctor now in peru, a woman, who needed contacts for volunteer work in cusco. so again pave was happy to oblige! we talked more about the coming year and when i asked about Usi, she said, "ellos estan esperando!" (they're waiting!) she will send soon her plan about waste management. and if i hadn't mentioned it otherwise here, i also told her about someone who can help us be under a 501C-3. all great news. better yet was the chance to talk. i really miss working with her.